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September 2022

J R Soc Med. 1988 Jun; 81(6): 341-4.

The management of symptoms in advanced cancer: experience in a hospital-based continuing care unit.

Hoskin PJ, Hanks GW.

Continuing Care Unit, Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey.

The treatment received by 158 patients with advanced cancer admitted over one year to the Continuing Care Unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital has been reviewed. The unit is an integral part of the hospital and this is reflected in the fact that 46 patients (29%) received radiotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy or surgery in addition to symptomatic treatment for palliation of troublesome symptoms. One hundred and thirty-one patients received oral morphine in doses ranging from 2.5 mg 4-hourly to 700 mg 4-hourly. Patients with renal or hepatic impairment required lower doses of morphine and there was a highly significant inverse relationship between morphine dose and age. Eighty-five patients (54%) received parenteral diamorphine at some time due to their inability to take oral morphine. One hundred and twenty-three patients (78%) received a co-analgesic drug and anti-emetics were required by 78 patients (49% overall; 56% of those receiving morphine). Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, acupuncture and relaxation were employed in selected patients, and graduated compression sleeves were used to treat lymphoedema. These data highlight the wide range of therapeutic options available to control the symptoms of advanced cancer and also indicate that tumoricidal treatments used in conjunction with symptomatic treatments may have a significant part to play.

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